The Red Kapok Tree

The Red Kapok Tree


By Susana Cortázar


One of the most vividly colored blooms at Zoo Miami is that of the red kapok tree (Bombax ceiba), also known as the red cotton tree. With the trees growing between 70 to 80 feet in height, these blood-red six-to-nine-inch flowers provide zoo visitors with a spectacular contrast against our clear blue skies. 


Blooming in late winter through early spring – February and March – the red kapok does best in “moist to wet, seasonally dry, well-drained soil, and full sun,” according to tree expert Sir Bob Beck.  They are easy to maintain and only need water once or twice a week, with little water during winter for more beautiful blooms.


Although attributed to Southern China and Indomalaysia, the tree’s exact origin is unknown. 


Because of its vibrancy, Bob says the red kapok is the tree “where patrons pose their kids for photos” most often.  So when you and the family visit Zoo Miami, make sure to stand in front of this beautiful tree, found opposite the giant tortoises exhibit across the amphitheatre, for a most memorable and colorful photograph.

Photos by Sir Bob Beck